Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Barricades rise after CAR clashes, but expert warns of civil war

01 October 2015, 09:45

Bangui - Barricades were lifted in the capital of the Central African Republic as tensions eased on Wednesday, but a UN expert warned the country could descend into civil war unless the latest violence is contained.

The country's interim president Catherine Samba-Panza returned to the capital Bangui after cutting short a trip to the UN in New York, following sectarian clashes at the weekend that left 36 people dead and sent nearly 30 000 others fleeing from their homes.

The presidency said Samba-Panza was due to speak on the crisis shortly.

Also Read: At least 500 prisoners escape Central African Republic jail

Fear gripped Bangui's streets after the clashes sparked by Saturday's murder of a Muslim motor-taxi driver in the flashpoint PK-5 district, with fears growing of a return to a deadly sectarian conflict that broke out in late 2013.

Angry Muslims with grenades and guns carried out reprisals against Christians in Bangui, and members of the feared "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) Christian militia began arriving from the provinces in response.

At least 20 000 terrified residents fled to camps by the airport, where French and UN peacekeepers from the 10 000-strong Minusca force are based.

Ethnicity and religion

A few petrol stations and shops reopened on Wednesday in tentative signs of a return to normal, while international and local troops were out on patrol, demanding protesters clear the streets.

The UN peacekeepers and French soldiers deployed in the country since December 2013 began removing barricades that protesters set up on major thoroughfares and around the airport, where at least 20 000 people have taken refuge near French and UN bases.

But the PK-5 and the eighth districts remained very tense, residents said.

One resident told AFP anti-balaka forces were "positioned in groups, armed with machetes" in the streets of two neighbourhoods near the PK-5.

Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum, the UN's independent expert on CAR, warned there was a risk of the situation spiralling into a civil war if it is not brought under control.

"I fear that if this violence is not rapidly contained, targeted attacks based on ethnicity and religion inevitably risk increasing and leading to a real civil war," she told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also called for those involved in the clashes "to immediately cease and desist the violence", adding that any war crimes committed will be punished.

The PK-5 neighbourhood was the epicentre of an unprecedented sectarian conflict pitting Christians against Muslims in 2013 and early last year, triggered by the ousting of president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Earlier this year UN rights investigators said estimates of between 3 000 and 6 000 dead in the conflict "fail to capture the full magnitude of the killing that occurred".

Disarmament is 'absolute priority'

In an address broadcast on national radio late Tuesday, Samba Panza - who the protesters are demanding step down - appealed for peace and urged citizens to return to their homes.

Bocoum said that disarming armed groups should be "an absolute priority" ahead of presidential and general elections due by the end of the year in CAR, one of the world's poorest countries.

She called on the government to "present a realistic and concrete plan" for disarmament and for reforming the security services.

Also Read: Ex-DRC VP Bemba, 4 allies go on trial, accused of bribing witnesses

But Thierry Vircoulon of the International Crisis Group said elections, which have already been pushed back several times, were unlikely this year.

"With international forces unable to retake control of the capital, it is difficult to imagine," the ICG's Central Africa project director told AFP in the Gabonese capital Libreville.

String of attacks

Failure to disarm and reinsert former combatants into society "will block the elections", he warned, adding: "The current flare-up is the result of an accumulation of errors by the international community."

Minusca denied reports that its troops on Monday killed three people after opening fire on several hundred demonstrators heading towards the presidency to demand Samba Panza's resignation.

The UN spokesperson Rupert Colville said in Geneva that some 500 prisoners had escaped from Bangui's main prison on Monday night, adding to the climate of insecurity.

The UN humanitarian co-ordinator in the country, Aurelien Agbenonci, meanwhile strongly condemned a string of attacks against aid organisations, adding: "All perpetrators of crimes against humanitarians will be held accountable."

One in 10 Central Africans – 460 000 people - have sought refuge outside the country, mainly in Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo, since 2013.



Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...